Vanished by James Delargy

‘A family was missing. They had been in the town and then they weren’t.’

Lorcan Maguire, his wife Naiyana and their six-year-old son Dylan arrive in the abandoned Westen Australian gold-mining town of Kallayee, on the edge of the Great Victoria Desert.  They are looking to escape from life in the city of Perth. The skeleton of a kangaroo provides a marker, and they have their choice of houses to live in. They just need to choose one that is not entirely derelict.

But life in Kallayee is not what they were expecting.  Dylan hears strange sounds at night, and car tracks appear where the family has not driven. If they are not alone, then who else is there?

They are advised to leave but choose to stay. The cracks in their marriage widen and they spend less and less time together. And then, they cannot be contacted. They appear to have disappeared.

Detective Emmaline Taylor is tasked with investigating their apparent disappearance. What she finds is puzzling: a house on the brink of collapse, ransacked, with smears of blood apparent. There is a tunnel littered with chocolate bar wrappers, but that seems to be all.  Until she finds a body, savaged by a pack of dingoes on the outskirts of the town.

‘That something had happened here. Something bad. And that, for a town that had been dead for forty years, a lot of blood had been recently spilled.’

The story shifts, between before and after the Maguires disappear, and between different characters. As we learn more about the past, we see more reasons why the Maguires chose to move to Kallayee. But where are they?

Mr Delargy maintains the tension throughout, through a series of quite bizarre events, with a few unexpected twists through to a satisfying but quite shocking conclusion.

‘We all have secrets.’

Recommended.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith

#AussieAuthor2021

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